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League names Larkin rookie of the month

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
Dylan Larkin registered seven goals and three assists last month for the Red Wings. On Tuesday, he was named the league's rookie of the month for November. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Detroit Red Wings)

DETROIT Dylan Larkin continues to shine in his freshman season.

On Tuesday, the National Hockey League recognized the Red Wings’ rising star by naming him the rookie of the month for November.

“It’s pretty cool. It’s good to get recognized by the league,” Larkin told exclusiveiy following Tuesday’s morning skate at Joe Louis Arena. “It’s cool to win individual honors, but I’m just happy that we had a pretty good month as a team. I was just happy to contribute.”

In 13 games, Larkin produced seven goals – two were game winners – on 34 shots on goal with three assists and a plus-5 rating for the month.

Larkin, the No. 15 overall pick in the 2014 NHL draft, had points in nine games in November. He has scored goals in six of the past seven games for the Red Wings, who are 4-0-3 in that span.

This season, the 19-year-old leads the Red Wings in goals (10), plus/minus (+14), shots on goal (64) and game-winning goals (3). He leads all league rookies in goals and plus/minus.

Larkin beat out Chicago forward Artemi Panarin (five goals, eight assists), New York Rangers center Oscar Lindberg (four goals, five assists), Calgary center Sam Bennett (four goals, four assists) and Buffalo center Jack Eichel (four goals, four assists) for the honor.

The Red Wings will host the Sabres (10-12-2) tonight at The Joe.

Last month, Larkin became the first teenager to score goals in four consecutive games since 1984-85 when Steve Yzerman had a pair of four-game streaks.

Since the first day of training camp, Larkin’s speed, skill and determination has earned the respect of his teammates.

“When he started playing in exhibition games and throughout training camp, you couldn’t send him down, he was way too good,” defenseman Jonathan Ericsson said. “He’s still a young guy and still needs an education out there, but the things he’s doing and the talent that he’s got, he has every tool in the world to become a really, really good player in this league.

“He’s playing around some really good players, but he’s still creating a lot by himself. He wants to create something every shift that he’s out there. He’s giving everything on every shift. He skates really fast and he knows it. He uses it to be a threat on every shift he’s out there. It’s been fun to watch him.”

There was a point last month when Larkin went five straight games without scoring a goal. While it had some wondering if the rookie could keep up his pace at such an elite level, the scoring lull had him over thinking too.

“I was kind of thinking the same thing about hitting a wall,” Larkin said. “But then I just kept shooting and I focused on going to the net more and stopping at the net. I scored a few goals stopping around the net, but I think just the mentality of getting to the net helped. I was really thinking to myself I’ve got to score, so it was just shooting more and putting myself in opportunities to get open to shoot.”

Last spring, Jeff Blashill coached Larkin in the AHL Calder Cup playoffs, after the Waterford, Mich., native had already logged 50 games combined at the University of Michigan, the World Junior Championship in Canada and World Championship in the Czech Republic.

The Red Wings coach says he’s not concerned with Larkin hitting a proverbial wall anytime soon.

“Lots of people talk about the wall and the NHL schedule is certainly difficult and can be a grind for sure, whether you played college or junior or any of that," Blashill said. "I don’t believe in the wall. I think if you allow yourself to hit a wall, you hit a wall, but I don’t believe it has to happen. I look at what Dylan did last year. If you think about the experience he went through last year – playing college hockey as a freshman, playing in the world junior tournament, finishing his year, having to make an extremely difficult life decision, playing in the worlds, coming to Grand Rapids and playing in the playoffs – there isn’t going to be a more excruciating year than that. Those are a lot of difficult things. I’ve been on world junior staffs. They take a lot out of you. You’re away from your family at Christmas. I don’t worry necessarily about Dylan hitting a wall. I think he’s got to be like every other guy. We’ve got to pound away every day to get better. We’ve got to expect ourselves to get better every single day and if you do that you’re going to be better at the end of the year.”

Edmonton center Connor McDavid was October’s rookie of the league after he compiled five goals and seven assists in 12 games. McDavid is out of the Oilers’ lineup with a broken clavicle.

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